Tuesday 25 April 2017

Man who stole almost €9k from fast food restaurant sentenced after DNA found on a cup of tea

He previously took part in an armed robbery with a former Love/Hate actor

Stock Image: PA
Stock Image: PA

Sonya McLean

A man who bought a cup of tea from a fast food outlet before robbing the manager was caught after his DNA was found on the paper cup he left at the scene.

Hugh McWeeney (44) of Roseglen Road, Kilbarrack, Dublin was sentenced to five years on Tuesday after he pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to robbery of €8,865 from Eddie Rockets, on Dublin's South Anne Street on August 6, 2013.

He has 33 previous convictions, including one for armed robbery which he carried out with the actor, Stephen Clinch (49), who played "Noely" in RTÉ's Love/Hate.

He is still serving this sentence.

Garda Brendan Kearns told Tom Neville BL, prosecuting that McWeeney bought a cup of tea in the restaurant before sitting outside to drink it.

When the manager was on his way to the bank to lodge four days worth of takings McWeeney jumped on him and tried to grab the bag.

A second robber then arrived on the scene and the victim was kicked and punched while he lay on the ground before his bag was stolen. Both men managed to get away.

Gda Kearns said the staff alerted gardaí to the paper cup that had been left and McWeeney's DNA was later found on it, leading to his arrest.

Pieter Le Vert BL, defending said his client was the primary carer for his bedridden elderly mother for a number of years before he went into custody.

He said he started inhaling solvents at eight years old and began taking heroin and crack cocaine in his 20s.

Counsel told Judge Melanie Greally that McWeeney stopped all drugs at the age of 39 and went "cold turkey."

He said he had not only rehabilitated himself in terms of drug use but had also been of assistance to others in similar situations. He handed a number of reports and references into court.

McWeeney took the stand and told Judge Greally that one of his biggest regrets in life was not being there for his older sons. He said he now wanted to be a better father for his nine-month-old son with his new partner.

"I'm tired with this way of life. I have had enough. There is something else out there," McWeeney said.

He told the court he wanted to apologise to all his victims. He outlined how he got clean but was under duress due to drug debts and had to commit crime to pay them off.

Judge Greally noted that McWeeney's release date from his current sentence is January 2019. She suspended the final 18 months of the five year term, meaning he will spend an additional six months in jail.

She accepted that the assault on the manager was short-lived but described it as violent and noted that McWeeney had "bided his time" in order to mug the man.

Judge Greally said McWeeney had established connections with "unsavoury characters" during his drug addiction who kept a hold over him for years. She accepted he made genuine efforts to stay clean and is "motivated to continue with his rehabilitation".

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